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Published: November 16, 2022

The Secret Lives of Parks: Making Things Whole


In 1969, Southern California suffered one of the largest oil spills in history, prompting national outrage and environmental awareness. Today, part of the Pacific coast near Channel Islands National Park remains vulnerable to drilling and other threats. Soon, decades of work by the Chumash people could lead to the country’s first Tribally nominated national marine sanctuary.


Channel Islands National Park and the marine habitat that surrounds it make up one of the most biodiverse coastal regions in the world, with a long and rich cultural history. It’s the traditional home of the Chumash people, and members of these seafaring Tribes have been working for decades to preserve their lands and waters from drilling, development and other threats. After a devastating explosion at an oil well in 1969 devastated birds and marine life along the coast, the Chumash and their allies have been seeking formal federal protections in the form of a national marine sanctuary. 

In this episode, host Jennifer Errick interviews guests Violet Sage Walker, Chairwoman of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council and nominator for the proposed sanctuary; Sarah Barmeyer, Deputy Vice President of Conservation Programs for the National Parks Conservation Association; and Paul Michel, Regional Policy Coordinator for the West Coast Office of National Marine Sanctuaries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They discuss some of the reasons this region is so special, what could be included in a proposed national marine sanctuary, and how Tribal members might remain involved in managing these lands and waters after the designation.

This episode was produced by Jennifer Errick with help from Todd Christopher and Bev Stanton.

Original theme music by Chad Fischer.

Learn more about the proposed sanctuary at chumashsanctuary.org.

The Secret Lives of Parks is a production of the National Parks Conservation Association. With more than 1.6 million members and supporters, NPCA is the nation’s only independent, nonpartisan advocacy organization dedicated to protecting national parks. Learn more at npca.org

Listen to full episode

Northern Chumash Tribal Council: 
Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary: 
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